Fish Market Step by Step


The Main Rialto Fish Market Building

I have chosen to start off with the pen outlined version of this picture as it is the largest image drawn out  and will be the easiest to show you the detail.

The pencils in use here are the restricted set of 36 Steadtler Karat colours.   Obviously when we come to use the alternative Derwent and Faber Castell pencils, we will have a much wider choice of colours.

I have completed the corner buildings in a similar way to the process shown in the previous step.  Colours used being Peach( the light pink) and fawn for the roof of the far left building and the other buildings have a peach underlayer with pink added as a top layer to warm them up.  The pink has not been washed in.  The windows and darker areas have had a dark Van Dyke Brown used first and a touch of black added dry. The busy area of the market has been sketched in with Fawn, Van Dyke Brown and some black and then merged with a damp brush.  Added lines dry with black.

The next area looked at is the main Rialto Market building with the red blinds in the arches.

I have started at roof level with dry colour.

First a shading in of dry Van Dyke Brown omitting the area just above the terrace rails.  Next a touch of Black on top along the extreme edge of the shadowed roof line. This will blend in and darken the brown when we add water.

Finally for this step, Fawn is added to the front of the building as shown above the railing and above the arches. Take care to leave the extreme right and left of the building brickwork white.

We can see already how the paper surface supplies a grained effect of brickwork, and whilst the brush will even this foundation coat out when we merge these three colours, we can go back and add the graining again on top with dry colour, later.

When adding water, work from the top edge of the roof down to the tops of the white pillars.  Ensure you use just enough water to moisten the pigment.  If you get it too wet, the colour will run out of control.  

I am using the No 4 brush for this.

Then start again from the top edge of the terrace railing and work upwards so that you keep some of that light fawn in the blend .   We usually try to work from light to dark with the brush as that ensures that we keep the lighter elements.  We do need a strong dark colour against the sky, though. For that edge, we work downwards from the top of the roof.

The little bit of protruding roof at the top can be added in dry colour later.

DON’T FORGET …. The colour we are adding at this point is simply a foundation.  It does not have to be exact, but it does need to be less dark than the final result, so that we have the opportunity to adjust the colour with further wet and dry layers

Inside the open arches you will see I have left two distinct strengths of dry black colour. This is so that I can try to show something stacked against the inside wall.

I have also drawn in the Gondoliers typical flat topped straw hat so that it shows up against the red blind behind it.  Many gondoliers will have a striped blue & white shirt over black trousers.  As our man is in silhouette, I have applied an even layer of light black and brown.  I can add blue on top later.  This is all now washed in with a damp brush.

That set of crucial shadows on the blinds has been left deliberately for the moment.  I need to complete the colour of the red blinds first and add the shadow as entirely dry colour afterwards.  I don’t like the shapes I have inked in for the archways and I am hopeful I can improve on these when I do the next bit.

More dry colour added across the picture.

Some of this will stay dry - that on the brickwork, the terrace shadow  and the gondolier.  The orange red which has been added to the blinds will now be washed in to get an even cover and we will then be able to think about adding the shadow to the blind tops

And here we are with the blind shadows in place.

The next bit of this exercise will be to do the same area again using Derwent and then FC Albrecht Durer pencils.

The Derwent study is on the same Clairfontaine Etival paper as the one above.  The Arches study is a smaller image ( overall 11 x 7 inches ) against the 15 x 11 inches of the Derwent and Staedtler ones.

The first thing to notice is how much rougher the a Arches paper is

(despite being referred to as ‘Fine Grain’).  Working smaller makes the detail much more difficult on the Arches paper.

The two further examples are shown below.  They took about an hour each to complete this area

Derwent Watercolour pencils on Etival CP paper

58 Raw Sienna and 59 Golden Brown for the far left buildings

tempered with spectrum Orange which doesn’t show up very well.

70 French Grey was used for the Gondolier shadow but that doesn’t show up very well either.

The colour washed in easily and the paper took further dry layers well.  I didn’t work too much dark into the market stalls this time

- I will leave that for final adjustments later.

This size is much easier to work than the Arches one on the right.

This took about an hour to do.  I dare say I could do a little more to the Gondolier, but I will leave this as shown for the present

Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolour pencils

on Arches CP paper   -  Block 14 x 10 inches

For this picture, I was using the Faber-Castell full 120 set and whilst there were many reds to choose from, I didn’t find as many browns as I wished.  The paper presented a very rough surface which made applying colour difficult from the pencils.  I had to lay down a rough area of colour and then define edges etc with the small watercolour brush.  The paper needed three or more layers of dry and I finished up with a very dark finish to the terrace shadow area as the Ivory black proved to be VERY effective - too effective perhaps.

I used Light Flesh, Dark Flesh and Raw umber for the far left buildings and the dark flesh proved very much stronger in the mixture when wet.  Once again I was more cautious in applying darks to the market stall area. This can be defined better later.

I was not so happy with my choice of colour for the main building brickwork. This was mainly Raw umber with a little Sanguine laid dry on the top to warm it up.

The terrace was completed with mainly Burnt Umber and Ivory black.  The Black proved too black and almost totally obscured the brown which was intended to warm it.  It’s a question of ‘know your colours’

The Gondolier came up much darker from the greys and blacks used  from the FC box, but I don’t think I could have got a sharper edge on his silhouette without making him too big.  We will see what happens when we work the water.


Working the three pictures side by side is very time consuming, but I think worthwhile.    

HOWEVER, I don’t intend to explain the full details for all three pictures and I intend to work them alternately for the notes and details, posting up the full notes and photos for the next step to the Derwent picture.

I will then work up the other two ( Pen version 1 and FC/ Arches version 3 ) much as the final notes above -  without step by step photos.

Hopefully this will give you all some useful tips - particularly if I go adrift !!!!!!



17th January 2017

18th January 2017

I have done a further test this morning using the reverse side of the sheet of Arches 300gsm CP paper from the block pad.  Using the reverse means I get the smoother side but I lose the benefit of the paper being locked in place on the pad.. I have to remove the sheet of paper to use it .  I have not done a sky on this test.

I have spent less than 30 minutes on this ( including the drawing out ) and the result is much better.  The smoother surface gives me the grain I am looking for, without the roughness.  

 I have also dipped further into the colour selection from Faber Castell to get round the absence of the light peachy brown I was looking for.  I have used a very light layer of dry Sanguine with a light layer of Green Gold and then added a modest amount of water. I have also used a little green gold with the scarlet red on the blinds.  The Faber Castell Green Gold is such a useful colour. It is transparent and warming and is so useful for adjusting other colours ( a bit like using Quinacridone Gold with traditional watercolours).  The roof edge and the first three areas of the terrace have had a light layer of dry black added.  I was undecided whether this should have water - as it could make it too black.  I have added water to the fourth opening to see, and I think that if the added dry layer of black is kept very light, the result will be OK.   See the smaller image on the left.

The Arches pad is smaller than the other two sheets of paper in use, so I am going to compare the same test shown here on a large piece of Daler Rowney Langton 300gsm CP paper which has a similar surface to the reverse of the Arches paper.

If the results are comparable, I will restart the Faber Castell test on the DR Langton paper so that all three of my tutorial exercises are on similar sized sheets of paper.

This will also give a fairer comparison for the Faber Castell colours against the two other brands.

DALER ROWNEY LANGTON COLD PRESSED PAPER - 300gsm ( 140lb )  using the smoother side

This has been a much more successful venture.  I decided that as the only drawing board of the right size available to me was a Keba Artmate stretching board I would stretch the paper ( sorry folks, I hadn’t intended to fail you at this point ! ).  This enabled me to quickly lay down a sky using the same method as I used for the Arches paper, but this time I added more water and covered more of the sky with blue ( and a bit of grey for cloud shadow ).  I blotted out excess colour to get a more convincing sky and proceeded with that far left corner set of buildings.

Faber Castell Albrecht Durer colours for the sky were Ultramarine and warm Grey 2

I then used Brown Ochre and Sanguine ( a pinkish red ) for the corner buildings defining shadow areas with Burnt Umber and a touch of black.  Colours were laid down dry and moistened with a small brush.  I then moved over to the brickwork over the arches and used first Brown Ochre as you can see.  This comes up very yellow when it is moistened but makes a good base as the end brick colour needs to be quite strong.  This gave me a chance to tidy up the shape of the arches before going too far.


I have laid down first Burnt Umber then black long the top edge of the roof..  A line of Brown ochre just above the pillars and then the same three colours dry in between the pillars.  You can see the major leap in colour strength once water is added.  I worked down from the roof edge and up from the balcony rail so that the darkest colour was kept in the ceiling area of the balcony.

The next step has been to complete the balcony painting and move down to the brickwork and blinds

You can see on the right that I have applied a fair amount of dry colour to the brickwork which I am leaving dry to take advantage of the grain of the paper.  There is some sanguine ( pink red ) and some grey in the bricks as well as some burnt umber as you may be able to see in the lower enlargement.  This isn’t finished, but it will give you an idea of the approach

This final image on the left shows the blinds completed and the shadows in place.  The dark interior has had dry black which has been partly worked with water to enhance the darker areas.   I am much happier with this paper surface and it now only remains for me to complete this stage with the Gondolier and the detail along the balcony with some minor touches to the brickwork.

SO THAT YOU CAN GET AN OVERALL VIEW ( the images here are all enlarged ) I have posted a full sized picture below.

I am not going any further with the Arches example as I find the paper surface far too rough for this process.  This example with the DR paper is the same working size as the other two examples and I am sure will make a much fairer comparison for the Faber-Castell colours.   

I am now going to look at the next stage with the Derwent colours



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